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Entries in film critics (98)

Monday
Jul142014

Meet July's "Smackdown" Panelists

The Supporting Actress Smackdown of '73 arrives on July 31st, just over two weeks from now. You need to get your votes in too if you want to participate (instructions at the bottom of this post). If you've wandered in from elsewhere and are like, "What's a Smackdown?," here's how it started.

The Smackdown Panel for July

Without further ado let's meet our panel who will be discussing popular classics Paper Moon, The Exorcist, and American Graffiti as well as the more obscure title Summer Wishes Winter Dreams. All of the Supporting Actress nominees this Oscar vintage were first timers and so are our Smackdown panelists.

Special Guest

DANA DELANY
Dana Delany is an actress working on stage, screen, television and now internet. She was last seen starring in "Body of Proof" on ABC. In August you can rate and review the pilot "Hand of God" in which she co-stars with Ron Perlman on Amazon.com. [Follow her on Twitter | IMDb]

Why did a famous actress like you want to participate?

I wanted to do a Smackdown because there is nothing I like better than watching a movie and discussing it with smart people. Way better than being smacked. 

What does 1973 mean to you?

For me personally it was a hugely transitional year. My parents separated, we moved to Virginia and I escaped by going to the movies before I truly escaped by going to boarding school for my senior year. It was also a transitional year for our country and film. Marriages ended as women asserted their independence and Roe v Wade passed. Economically the US was a mess with gas shortages and NYC was bankrupt. American faith was shaken with the Watergate trial and the beginning of the end of the fruitless Vietnam War. I think that's why you see so much nostalgia in the movies with "The Sting", "American Graffiti", "Paper Moon" and "The Way We Were" in stark contrast to the European "Last Tango in Paris". Even at the Oscars the next spring, David Niven being surprised by a streaker was the embodiment of old Hollywood/new world.

 

And...

BILL CHAMBERS
Bill Chambers is the founder, editor, and webmaster of FilmFreakCentral.net, which recently turned seventeen. A graduate of York University's Film program, he is a member of both the Toronto Film Critics Association and the Online Film Critics Society. He just got a cat. [Follow him on Twitter]

What does 1973 mean to you?:

I suppose the first thing that comes to mind is Terrence Malick making his directorial debut, and Martin Scorsese formally introducing himself to moviegoers. The seismographic image of 1973 I have in my head is deceptively calm compared to the years that flank it, perhaps because while '73 produced no shortage of future classics, so many of them -- "The Last Detail", "Sisters", "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" -- seem like sleepers to this day, amassing cults without getting the splashy reissues or being front and centre in discussions of their directors' work. And when I factor in genre classics like "Enter the Dragon", "Westworld", even "Don't Look Now", this might be the year in film from that hallowed decade I'd most want with me on a desert island... though I'd probably just try to make a raft out of "Lost Horizon".

 


MARK HARRIS

Mark Harris is an editor-at-large at Entertainment Weekly, a Grantland columnist (about the Oscars and other things), and a contributor to New York magazine. He is the author of Pictures at a Revolution (2008) and Five Came Back (2014). He lives in New York City. [Follow him on Twitter]  

What does 1973 mean to you?

1973 was the first year I got to have any say in the movies I wanted to see, which, as I recall, were "The Sting", "Sleeper", "Paper Moon", "The Day of the Dolphin", and, because this is a place for truth, Burt Reynolds in "White Lightning". "The Exorcist" was high on my wish list, but only one friend my age had gotten to see it, and only because, as my mother tersely explained to me, 'His parents don't care about him.' That year's movies competed in the first Oscar show I was ever allowed to stay up and watch. Other highlights of that year for me: The televised Watergate hearings, Sonny and Cher, fourth grade.

 


KARINA LONGWORTH 
Karina Longworth is the creator/host of You Must Remember This, a podcast about the secret/forgotten history of Hollywood's first century. She is the author of books about George Lucas, Al Pacino and Meryl Streep, and has contributed to Grantland, Slate, LA Weekly, the Guardian, NPR, Vulture, and other publications. [Follow her on Twitter]

What does 1973 mean to you?

"The Last of Sheila". "Blume in Love". "Scarecrow" winning the Palme D'or. Gloria Steinem with hair colored in emulation of Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's". Situationism. "Coffy". "The Mother and The Whore".

 


KYLE TURNER
Born in 1994 and enamored of the cinema ever since, Kyle began writing on the internet in 2007 with his blog The Movie Scene. Since then, he has contributed to TheBlackMaria.org, Movie Mezzanine, and IndieWire's /Bent. Xavier Dolan's "I Killed My Mother" is basically his life story and "Bringing Up Baby" is his default favorite film. He likes coffee and is studying film at the University of Hartford in Connecticut. He is relieved to know he is not a golem. [Follow him on Twitter]

What does 1973 mean to you?

From merely an appreciative perspective, it was the year "The Godfather" won Best Picture (for '72), Watergate happened, and Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" was released.

 

And your host

NATHANIEL R
Nathaniel is the founder of The Film Experience, a reknowned Oscar pundit, and the web's actressexual ringleader. He fell in love with the movies for always at The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) but also blames Oscar night (in general) and the 80s filmographies of Kathleen Turner and Michelle Pfeiffer. Though he holds a BFA in Illustration, he found his true calling when he started writing about the movies. He blames Boogie Nights for the career change. [Follow him on Twitter]

What does 1973 mean to you?

I have no memories of that year but if I had any they'd surely involve my sister (she's the eldest and I'm the baby) and her friends who were approaching their teenage years and who I generally remember looking at with awe (bell bottoms, long hair and all) just a few years later. As for what it makes me think of now? Exactly 4 things: "Your girl is lovely, Hubbell"; Liza Minnelli's victory tour for her work in 1972 (the Oscar, the Emmy, the BAFTA, the Globe, and the Hasty Puddings Woman of the Year all came her way); political powderkegs Roe v Wade and Watergate; and that unique admirable window of time in America wherein confrontational subtitled art films like Ingmar Bergman movies could be big hits and up for multiple Oscars... the 70s were so weird (read: awesome). 

 

YOU'RE INVITED, TOO!
The readers are the final (collective) panelist. You have 12 more days to get your votes in on any of the performances you've seen grading them on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (perfect). (Paper Moon is on Instant Watch so you have no excuse to miss that one.) We excerpt quotes from reader ballots and your votes count toward the outcome. That matters because sometimes it's a real brawl for the win: see recent editions 1941 and 1964

1973 Supporting Actress Nominees
Linda Blair The Exorcist
Candy Clark American Graffiti
Madeline Kahn Paper Moon
Tatum O'Neal Paper Moon
Sylvia Sidney  Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams

 

Say hi to our exciting panel in the comments and tell them what you think of when you think of "73". And like the film experience on Facebook while you're at it.

PROCEED TO THE SMACKDOWN EVENT

Thursday
Jun192014

Only Linker Left Alive

Screen Crush Top Secret the making of an 80s comedy classic 
The Playlist celebrates Chinatown's 40th Anniversary 
MNPP David Oyelowo twelve times 
The Wire a rumor roundup on Doctor Strange and what's going on

The Movie Scene takes a different tack on those "halfway mark" lists that are starting round the web, merely ranking the films that were new to him this year on DVD... classics mixed with brand new things. I've never been able to compare different eras well in terms of "rank" - give me year to year contests or decade lists but otherwise... too tough! 
Row Three I haven't listened to this yet but I love the concept: a podcast devoted to one movie soundtrack an episode with a new person interviewed about what the soundtrack meant to their life. This episode is Dirty Dancing
/bent Lupita Nyong'o on the cover of Vogue for July. Only the second African (though some African-American entertainers have made the cover) 
The Wire remembers the Broadway-to-screen adaptations prior to Jersey Boys which brought the stage actors to the screen. As you can see this practice has decidedly mixed results - when it works it's magic but when the people are way too old for the roles on the big screen... 

first official image of Jamie Dornan in 50 Shades of Grey (2015)

Great Question
The Guardian is doubtful that 50 Shades of Grey could do it but with a history of horny films asks 'what could bring the erotic thriller, a long dead genre that peaked in popularity with Fatal Attraction (1987), back to the cinemas?'

Off Cinema
Gayest of All Time "Kitty Bro Five" -'Dat Be Cute' is right!
Pitchfork MoMA will host a Björk retrospective next year
Autostraddle every character from Orange is the New Black as they appeared on guest stints in Law & Order -- as much as I blame that show for so much that is wrong with television, I recognize it kept food on the table for countless thespians
Mr Dan Zak true life story that inspired the nun's arc on OITNB

Finally...
Our 'Halfway Mark' articles are coming up in a week or two surveying the year in progress but Indie Wire started early and polled critics about the best of the year thus far (I always forget to vote on these things). Grand Budapest Hotel, Under the Skin, Only Lovers Left Alive, and Ida are the top four. Their combined domestic gross is $65 million OR what Fault In Our Stars and 300:Rise of an Empire earned in their first week. (Le sigh)

Saturday
Jun142014

Links, Kids

Broadway World James Whale's Showboat finally on DVD
AV Club whoa. The Grand Budapest Hotel made entirely out of Legos
Antagony & Ecstacy reviews The Fault in Our Stars with the best review title going anywhere. The rest of the review is another reminder that Tim Brayton is one of the essential online critics.


AP "Dame" Angelina Jolie? She just received an honorary title in England
Deadline Keanu Reeves will take the role vacated by Daniel Craig in that Courtney Hunt (Frozen River) Renée Zellweger picture The Whole Truth so it's back on
In Contention is The Judge with Downey Jr and Duvall an Oscar contender?
Deadline Tom Hiddleson will star as Hank Williams in an upcoming biopic and do his own singing!
The Black Maria looks back at the brief swing music renaissance in 90s cinema. Oh I used to love Swing Kids
Employee of the Month interviews the incomparable performance artist Taylor Mac
Yahoo horrifying slapstick bathroom humor of Paddington teaser will break the hearts of anyone who loved the actual dignified humble character of Paddington in book form. Sigh... here's another flop for Nicole Kidman (who does not appear in the teaser)
Pop Watch wants blockbusters to lighten up and return to fun times. Agreed. Love the list of who is to blame.

Finally...
Though we already gagged over this on Twitter, if you haven't yet seen it because you were mainlining OITNB or (gasp) offline, here is Sarah Paulson introducing her new character... excuse me, new characters on American Horror Story season 4. Meet "Bette" and "Dot"...

 

 

I can't think of an actress on TV that I'd like to see two of more right now, can you?

 

Friday
Jun062014

Links

Vulture Peter Dinklage's high school yearbook folder -- Mullet!
The Playlist Darren Aronofsky might not be ready to lead apocalyptic floods behind. But this time it's for TV with a Margaret Atwood adaptation
The Wire a definitive ranking of Tom Cruise's leading ladies post-Kidman
MNPP Bradley Cooper gets the hose again
THR ewww, Forrest Gump is going IMAX for a 20th anniversary rerelease. 'and that's all i have to say about that' 

Above Average every superhero movie (by which they mean mostly Spider-Man) in one take
TMZ George Jung penned a sequel to Blow while in prison (he just got out). TMZ calls the Johnny Depp movie of Blow a classic. Um... just because something is now 'old' does not make it classic. 
Critic Wire smart piece re: the ongoing story / speculation of why film critics are losing their jobs 
Guardian Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Dreamgirls) will direct a live action version of Beauty & The Beast for Disney. The Mouse House is getting hilarious with their regurgitation. How long until we have new versions of all of their product every other year to feed the machine?
Empire first image from Michael Mann's new crime thriller (with Chris Hemsworth & Viola Davis) which is either called Cyber or Black Hat
The Wire on the Harry Potter paraphenalia cameos in The Fault in Our Stars, which is from a different movie studio
Boy Culture congratulations to Matthew Rettenmund, another friend with a new book deal. Everyone's getting 'em lately. His book, called Starf*cker is memoirish about celebrity obsession. (And he's met a ton of them.)

And if you're wondering why there's no link to the story of Lupita's new project that's because it deserves its own article...

Finally...
WNYC published the transcript of a piece about performance artist Lucy Sexton called "I Married The Gay Father of My Child". The reason I'm sharing it here is that her husband is the Oscar nominated director Stephen Daldry of Billy Elliott, The Hours, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close fame. (Occasionally in the past when I've celebrated "out" artists in Hollywood, people have objected to his inclusion because 'he's married!')

Are you a different sort of wife in this marriage than you were in your first marriage?

Sure. Basically the most important difference being that the first marriage started from a romantic place and this did not. So, the purpose and intent is to build a family based in love, and that’s the most important thing. So, there’s a certain freedom. Your identities don’t mesh in the same way.

He can do what he does. I can do what I do. We both have careers in the arts, which take us all over the place and we’re both a very good team about supporting each other with that. I don’t mean to make it sound cold, but I think it’s a great working unit. That’s how it feels. 

Monday
May262014

Wet Hot Linky Monday

Things That Are Not Cannes-Related
Vanity Fair Leonardo DiCaprio in space: the auction! I love it whenever Katey Rich's inner Titanic fangirl comes out.
Coming Soon Wet Hot American Summer to be a series on Netflix now. And, much better news: its now middle aged original cast members will all be playing high school versions of themselves. Love it. Can't wait to see Paul Rudd's sloppy french-kissing again. That movie is such a scream
Playbill oooh, here's a fun unexpected list. Ten artists that are a Tony Award short of the EGOT  from Kate Winslet through Julie Andrews and on to um... Martin Scorsese?

Comics Alliance on how Quicksilver, not a major fan favorite superhero, was suddenly a hot property with two major motion pictures in the space of a year
Star-Ledger interviews Dan Callahan on that Vanessa Redgrave book we told you about a couple of weeks ago
Playbill Jim Parsons on coming out and how The Normal Heart affected his life
Vanity Fair Emma Thompson gives her usual great interview promoting her new comedy with Pierce Brosnan The Love Punch

I’d rather have root canal treatment FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE than join Twitter"

Cannes -Cannes-Cannes
though everyone's flown home
Notebook Miriam Bale on her Cannes experience, David Cronenberg's Map to the Stars and Jean Luc-Godard
In Contention best and worst of the fest 
Critic Wire averages out the grades for this year's slates at Cannes. Highest grades go to Leviathan, Foxcatcher, The Tribe, Whiplash, Two Days One Night, Force Majeure, Wild Tales, Tu Dors Nicole and A Hard Day (the last two of which I haven't previously heard a peep about online.) 
The Telegraph Leila Hatami (A Separation) had to apologize for a public kiss on the cheek at Cannes which angered some Iranians. This world is madness and so wretched to women time and again.
Variety the 7 biggest surprises at Cannes Parties from Leonardo DiCaprio (all business even when peeing) to Lindsay Lohan getting kicked off a yet (um... how does the latter qualify as a 'surprise'?)

And the sales...
The Tribe the tough Ukranian picture The Tribe (the one in sign language without subtitles) has three major European countries nailed down (+ Japan) for distribution. Will we get it in the US? Pretty please? 
The Wonders, the Grand Jury Prix winner is also selling briskly to multiple markets

And a final P.S. on the sales. Sony Pictures Classics who got three of the buzziest Sundance titles early this year were also buying at Cannes. I guess they want a handful of Oscars and not just to dominate the foreign film and documentary again. At this writing here's their upcoming slate:

  • Land Ho! - Sundance comic hit about two old pals vacationin in Iceland [July, review]
  • Magic in the Moonlight - the latest from Woody Allen, which we just discussed [July]
  • Love is Strange - if it's handled delicately and smartly and the critics rally it could be a dark horse Oscar player. Either way, it's going to become a classic down the road. [August, review]
  • Whiplash - Sundance and Cannes hit a father and son drama with Miles Teller as a drummer with a tough dad [October]
  • Foxcatcher - a good bet for multiple Oscar noms but is it too chilly to win statues? [November, review]
  • Mr Turner - this handsome art biopic could be a major player for Mike Leigh [December, review]
  • Infinitely Polar Bear - their only purchase that baffled me at Sundance. But it's got recognizable stars [Opens TBA, reviewed]
  • The Salt of the Earth - buzzy Cannes documentary [Opens TBA]
  • Red Army -another Cannes doc about the Soviet Union hockey team during the Cold War [Opens TBA]
  • Jimmy's Hall - the new Ken Loach from Cannes [Opens TBA]
  • Saint Laurent - YSL biopic from Cannes [Opens TBA]
  • Wild Tales - the Argentinian comedy won major raves at Cannes [Opens TBA]
  • Leviathan - this Russian film from the director of The Return and Elena was expected to win big at Cannes had to settle for Screenplay. I always worry when these things happen post-buy that the distributor will then put them on the backburner. Hope that isn't the case here. [Opens TBA]

Today's Watch
Mutant super powers aren't just for human anymore. Kittens!